Do You have a Set List?

Every band has collection of songs they play. That’s true whether they write their own stuff, use material someone wrote for them, or stick to covers. Those songs may be in various stages of development; before the band records or heads to a gig, they need to decide which are ready for public consumption and which need more work. The ones that are deemed ready, or at least ready for a test drive and feedback, are placed on a set list. There is often a serious discussion of the order in which to play songs, so that stronger material is interspersed with “iffier” stuff in a way that seems likely to get and hold the audience’s attention. This list is the reference point for the band’s performing activities. The set list is under constant revision as the band learns from their experiences. If one song bombs, it gets moved or removed. If another song does surprisingly well, the band puts it in an advantageous slot.

These conversations work best when they are open, honest, analytical, and cordial. If someone is having trouble learning a chord change, he should speak up. If the vocal is flat on that tune, the singer should be told. If the bass player noticed audience members dozing off during songs 3 and 4, everyone ought to talk about what that means. People can be very vulnerable during these conversations, so a healthy band has to balance frankness with appropriate vocabulary and tone.

You should do the same with your own products, services, or ideas. Which ones are your strongest? Which need more development? Which ones should be removed from your repertoire? You and your band should have intentional, serious discussions about these things. If you are running for public office, you have to talk about your message and ideas. If you are selling hard drives for small electronics, you have to discuss everything from the products themselves to how you are marketing them. If you don’t take the time to get on the same page, you won’t know what you are going to play when you get on stage. (Incidentally, that’s when embarrassing public arguments tend to occur.) Share information, point out problems, and discuss solutions and new ideas. This should be done on a regular basis and is especially important after any “gig,” that is, any significant event or activity that you undertake.

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